Sheepshead (Archosargus Probatocephalus)

Sheepshead (Archosargus Probatocephalus)
Sheepshead (Archosargus Probatocephalus)

Appearance

The adult sheepshead is gray to greenish-yellow and has five to seven vertical black crossbars along the body. Crossbars are more distinct in young specimens. The dorsal, anal, and ventral fins are mostly dusky to black; the caudal and pectoral fins are greenish. Gill rakers are short, with six to seven on the lower limb of the first arch. Scales are finely serrate. The dorsal fin has strong spines; the spinous portion is longer than the soft portion. The caudal fin has a shallow fork. The second spine of the anal fin is enlarged.

Maximum Size

10-15 pounds (4.5-7 kg) is typically the ceiling for sheepshead, but there have been recorded specimens over 20 pounds (9 kg).

Geographic Range

The sheepshead is common along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts of the United States, from Cape Cod to Texas. It has been reported from Nova Scotia to Rio de Janeiro.

Habitat

Young juveniles commonly live in grass flats over mud bottoms, whereas adults and older juveniles usually congregate on the bottom or along the shore near rocks, pilings, breakwaters, jetties, and piers

Food

Sheepshead are omnivorous, and often eat plant material as well as invertebrates and small vertebratesthat inhabit shallow, inshore brackish waters adults eat blue crabs, barnacles, young oysters, clams, other mollusks and crustaceans, and small fish - primarily young Atlantic croakers.

Spawning

Sheepshead spawn in spring in mid-Atlantic coastal waters, generally offshore.

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